By Daniel Hunter

An extra £5.9 million of Government funding has been allocated to councils across London to help benefit claimants renting in the private sector.

The funds are part of a £49 million package that will be allocated to British councils to help with the transition to new Housing Benefit rules until 2015. This is on top of the £130m Discretionary Housing Payments and the £10 million for homelessness prevention in London.

The funds will help residents and councils to renegotiate their rents with landlords and find more affordable properties.

“The cost of paying Housing Benefit in the private rented sector has nearly doubled in a decade, so it's only right that we introduce new reforms to get these spiralling costs under control. The additional £5.9 million funding for London will help councils to prepare and assist residents make the transition," Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said.

“We are already seeing councils pulling together to create innovative projects to target support for tenants and work with landlords to renegotiate rents or find affordable properties.

“We look forward to councils continuing to work together and with local groups to make the very best use of these new resources.”

Last year, 10 projects across the UK were created with the first £4 million of funding and all councils across Britain will now share the latest £15 million slice of funding.

The Government hopes councils will use the first projects as examples of how they can pool resources and co-operate to support residents.

Projects established last year are seeing councils co-operating and working with a range of voluntary bodies including:

A social letting agency targeting landlords in eight local authorities in East London provided by the East London Housing Partnership;

- An advice service across six local authorities provided by the North London Housing Partnership with voluntary organisation Islington People’s Rights.

- A digital service covering 50,000 households across five local authority areas in West Yorkshire provided by Kirklees Council.

- A software package available to 168 local authorities to highlight people affected.

- An advice and information website for all 22 counties across Wales run by Cardiff City Council.

- Proactive targeting of claimants who may need support by the London Borough of Lambeth with homelessness charity Broadway and also by a specialist team in the London Borough of Brent.

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